When Princess Cruises ships begin their Alaska season this weekend, the line will offer passengers more local tastes and culture onboard than ever before, giving them a rich “Great Land” experience not only on land, but also while at sea.
“Alaska’s 50th anniversary year is the perfect time to celebrate the wonders of this magnificent state,” said Jan Swartz, Princess executive vice president. “And this summer, especially, our passengers will enjoy a multi-faceted shipboard program to immerse them in the flavors, culture, history and natural wonders of Alaska throughout their cruise.”
Princess’ extensive onboard Alaska program includes:
Sanctuary Glacier Viewing Experience – Aboard Golden Princess, Star Princess and Island Princess, The Sanctuary will become a prime location for glacier viewing of the unforgettable Glacier Bay or Tracy Arm. The exclusive Sanctuary experience will offer passengers a variety of amenities to make their glacier experience comfortable, with deluxe padded lounge chairs, plush fleece blankets, ear muffs and binoculars. Park rangers and naturalists will also provide private commentary for guests in The Sanctuary, and will be available for one-on-one meetings to answer questions. A variety of special food and beverage offerings will be available exclusively in The Sanctuary, including Mimosas and Bloody Marys, specialties such as Alaska Rockfish Chowder and freshly fried "Beaver Tail” pastries.
Tastes of Alaska – Passengers can experience the flavors of Alaska with a number of special opportunities to enjoy Princess’ Signature Alaska Cuisine. Throughout the Alaska fleet, chefs will create a bounty of flavorful dishes that reflect the state’s culinary delights, featuring fresh local fish, savory meats, and an assortment of seafood specialties. Passengers will find ample opportunity to sample these treats, with a number of special culinary events throughout the cruise.
· Glacier Bay Champagne Breakfast – Passengers can enjoy the majestic views of Glacier Bay from the comfort of their private balconies, while indulging in an exquisitely prepared Alaskan breakfast or brunch. The feast includes smoked salmon and an Alaskan crab quiche plus fresh pastries, fruit and forest berries along with a half bottle of champagne, served right on the stateroom balcony as the ship passes breathtaking scenes of this natural wonder.
· Glacier Bay Gala Buffet –While ships sail among the stunning scenery of Glacier Bay, a lavish lunch buffet fuels passengers with a variety of Alaskan specialties, including hot and cold smoked salmon carved at the buffet, crab salad, and grilled fish, plus ice carvings and other special décor.
· Alaskan Dinner – In the dining rooms, the special Alaskan Dinner features a number of local tastes and regional influences, including salmon, a celebrated seafood soup and loin of venison.
· On Deck Fish Barbecue – On one port day, cruisers will return to the ship to find a festive poolside fish barbeque serving up such specialties as grilled prawns on skewers, fresh Alaska halibut brochettes, crab cakes, and venison chili.
· Reindeer Chili & Rockfish Chowder Cook-off – A sea day cook-off between two chefs gives passengers the opportunity to sample these local tastes.
· Warm up on Deck – Hot chocolate and mid-morning bouillon are served daily on open deck to help passengers warm up as they take in the scenery.
· Alaskan Beers/Hot Toddy – To top off any meal, diners can pair their Alaskan feasts with local beers – such as Alaskan Amber and Alaskan Summer Ale –or an Alaskan Hot Toddy. Beers can be served in an exclusive etched pint glass with the Alaskan Brewers and Princess Cruises logos.
· Chef's Table – The ships’ chefs will be creating special menus for the exclusive Chef’s Table featuring mouth-watering specialties.
· Culinary Demonstrations – Passengers can learn the tricks of the trade from Princess chefs at a demonstration featuring the flavors of Alaska such as Farfalle Pasta with Hot Smoked Alaskan Salmon.
Local Experts – Passengers can learn about many aspects of life in Alaska and the state’s natural wonders from a variety of special guests onboard:
· Iditarod Champion Libby Riddles: Sled Dogs and Adventure – Libby Riddles, the 1985 Iditarod sled dog race champion and first woman ever to win the famous Anchorage to Nome trek, will be onboard for her ninth Alaska season. Riddles has become a Princess favorite, enthralling passengers with exploits from her days as a musher. In her exclusive appearances for Princess, Riddles joins each of the line’s Alaska ships during its call in Juneau. Taking passengers behind the scenes into the world of dog mushing, she shares her Iditarod experiences while describing what it’s like to live in a native Inupiat village near Nome. Riddles’ approximately hour-long presentations are held aboard the ship in the afternoon, followed by an opportunity for passengers to ask questions, get autographed copies of her books or pose with her for photos.
· Alaska Naturalists – On each Alaska sailing, passengers have the benefit of the expert guidance from a dedicated onboard naturalist throughout their cruise. These veteran guides include biologists, writers, adventurers, professors and Alaska Natives, among others, who give informative presentations about local wildlife, glaciers, oceanography, marine life, native Alaskan cultures, history and many other local topics of interest. Naturalists often provide colorful bridge commentary as well and help with spotting wildlife.
· Park Ranger Programs in Glacier Bay – Park rangers present a variety of programs for passengers of all ages while ships sail among the dramatic ice fields of Glacier Bay National Park. National Park Service rangers join the ship for the day, offering a live commentary from ship’s bridge throughout the visit to Glacier Bay, pointing out the natural wonders and wildlife sightings. Rangers also give an informative shipboard presentation with videos of Glacier Bay’s environment. They also meet with passengers at a dedicated booth, offering reference books and other information to further inform interested visitors about Glacier Bay’s natural and cultural history.
· USDA Forest Service Partnership – Ketchikan/Misty Fjords – Passengers have the opportunity to learn more about the nation’s largest National Forest – Tongass National Forest – with a special onboard presentation by rangers from the U.S. Forest Service about the resources and management of the forest. A naturalist station will be set up throughout the afternoon each ship is in Ketchikan, and passengers are invited to special presentations for adults and children as the naturalists share information about Southeast Alaska and this important national treasure.
Award-winning video presentations – Passengers can learn more about the wonders of Alaska from the comfort of their own stateroom, with these specially produced videos, including a series of Telly Award-winning port videos.
· “The Heart of Alaska” – Produced by Princess, this unique documentary beautifully depicts the land, wildlife and people of Alaska with dramatic visuals and music. The 26-minute film features fascinating interviews with some of the people who make the state unique – including rangers, Alaska natives, homesteaders and dog mushers who share an insiders’ perspective of life in the 49th state. The film also brings the audience up close to the wildlife of Denali National Park, and soaring photography takes viewers high above the world’s tallest peaks, including “The Great One,” Mt. McKinley. The film won a “Best Cinematography” award at the New York Independent Film and Video Festival. “The Heart of Alaska” is shown on stateroom televisions and is available for purchase onboard.
· Glacier Bay Videos – Developed in close cooperation with the National Park Service, Princess presents an exclusive video presentation hosted by a National Park Service Ranger. Offered on stateroom televisions before the call to Glacier Bay, the film explains what passengers can expect to experience during the day in the national park. Passengers will learn about the history, geography and marine biology of the park to help enhance their visit.
· Alaska Port Presentations – Not only can passengers get port information from the onboard port lecturers, but can also enjoy Princess’ series of Telly Award-winning videos about the ports they will visit. Destinational videos include the ports Juneau, Ketchikan, Sitka, Skagway, Anchorage, Vancouver and Victoria. These videos highlight the history, culture and geography of each city.
Alaska Youth Program – Special programs especially for younger cruisers will give them an appreciation for the wonders of the state’s wildlife, people and natural beauty.
· Glacier Bay Junior Ranger/Teen Explorer – Princess ships also offer special Glacier Bay activities for the ships’ younger passengers. The enriching Junior Ranger and Teen Explorer program is designed to bring Glacier Bay and the Alaska wilderness to life for the thousands of children who cruise each summer. This joint effort between Princess and the National Parks Service is designed to encourage young cruisers to explore Glacier Bay’s natural and cultural history through fun interactive projects. Children ages 3-12 and teens ages 13-17 can participate in special programs customized for their age group and take home specially developed activity books. Kids who participate in a certain number of events and activities can earn Junior Ranger status, which is commemorated with an official badge and certificate.
· Ketchikan/Tongass National Forest – In addition to the general presentations onboard in Ketchikan, the Forest Service will also offer special information and materials designed for children to help them understand important forest.
Alaska Mementos – Princess ships offer a number of opportunities for souvenirs and unique Alaska gifts.
· Alaska’s 50th Anniversary Statehood Commemorative Souvenirs –In celebration of Alaska’s 50th Anniversary of Statehood, Princess will offer a special collection of apparel and souvenirs for this commemorative event each cruise. Featuring the official logo commissioned by the Alaska government to honor and celebrate Alaska’s Native heritage and history, the collection includes t-shirts, caps, totes and mugs.
· Art Auctions to Feature Alaskan Wildlife – Art lovers can take home unique works celebrating the marine mammals of Alaska created by the renowned artist Wyland.
· Exclusive Cruise Companion Book/Map and Video – A Princess exclusive, the “Alaska Cruise Companion” book and map set was created especially for the line by author and long-time Alaskan Joe Upton. The insightful guide lets passengers follow along on their cruise as the detailed map and information-packed guidebook are organized to match Princess’ itineraries. Loaded with facts and colorful stories about each port and coastal features along the way, the set is a favorite with Alaska passengers each year. An accompanying video, also produced by Upton, is shown throughout the cruise in shipboard cabins, following the cruise route with beautiful photography and entertaining narration.
· Gold Rush Marketplace – For passengers seeking the perfect memento of their Alaskan adventure, Princess ships offer a one-time special event each cruise – the Gold Rush Market Place. This unique shopping opportunity offers a comprehensive collection of exclusive Alaskan merchandise representing the 49th state’s many cultures and resources, with items such as gold nuggets and quartz, cozy totem blankets, hand crafted figurines depicting Alaska's natural wildlife, authentic Russian souvenirs from Sitka, Native Alaskan dolls, and totems all manufactured by local Alaskan artisans. Exclusive Alaska apparel represents the rich history and culture of Alaska with designs only available on Princess ships.
Princess’ 2009 Alaska season begins May 9 and runs through September 14, featuring a total of 130 sailings aboard Diamond Princess, Sapphire Princess, Coral Princess, and Island Princess traveling on the line’s signature Gulf of Alaska sailings; Golden Princess, Star Princess and Sea Princess sailing the Inside Passage routes from Seattle and San Francisco and Pacific Princess offering the line’s small ship experience on 14-day Connoisseur voyages to some of the state’s less-visited ports.